Maui Nui Proves Writer Overlooked Best Golf Deals On Island

By Gord Montgomery (iG)


If you're heading to Maui and planning to golf while you're there, please don't make the same mistake I made for several years - driving past the Maui Nui Golf Club without stopping.

Many Canadians find themselves stayig in the Kihei area of the island and likely drive by the fairways that line the Piilani Highway never really giving this playground a second thought, thanks in large part to it being overshadowed by its more famous cousins in Wailea and Ka'anapali.

Well, think again and hit the brakes my friends, for this is one place you want to tee it up.

Lief Smith, the director of golf at the Maui Nui, said people are truly taken off-guard when they first set foot on this layout, designed by a Western Canadian, Bill Newis.

"What we have here is a lot of people see the neighbourhood just off the highway and think "private club," and costs that run upwards of $300 a round," Smith explained. "Our golf course is not a resort course," with wide open, hard-to-miss landing areas. "You can have all sorts of challenges out here," especially if you set up on the wrong starting blocks.

Director Of Golf, Lief Smith, Is Proud To Welcome Canadians To The Maui Nui Golf Club, As Shown By The Pair Of Maple Leaf Flags Flying At The Course's Entryway. Photo by Gord Montgomery

"From the Blues or the Gold championship tee boxes you're going to get a far bigger challenge," than from the more forward boxes," warned Smith. "Blind tee shots. Forced carries. Long 220-yard second shots. Elevation changes. We have some water and the wind to deal with late in the afternoon usually."

This par 71 layout has a challenging start on the front nine with some steep demands placed upon your skill from the get go. No. 1 is a demanding 409 yard par-4 from the whites followed by a par-5 that is no cakewalk. Then holes four through seven, in particular, can put some big crooked numbers on your scorecard but the good news is the course softens after that.

"You want to try and get out of 4, 5, 6 and 7 with a par, or a bogey at worst, and if you do that you'll feel really great about your round, because once you get to eight, nine and the back nine, there are lots of scoring opportunities," Smith pointed out. "But literally, two through eight, with the exception of three, a short par-3, are pretty tough holes."

One of the past complaints about this course, when it was called the Elleair Golf Club, was that it was too long from the front tees. That issue has now been resolved under new ownership, making this a family-friendly locale.

"We were built in 1986 and the forward tee boxes were something like 5,800 yards," said Smith. "In the past eight to 10 months we've put six new tee boxes in that shortened up our par-5s and some of our longer par-4s that brought us back down to around 5,200. That's made it a lot more enjoyable for the golfers looking to play the forward tee boxes."

The thing is, no matter what tee you play from, the Maui Nui is a surprise if you haven't teed it up here before. It features interesting slopes and angles, both on the fairways and the greens. As well, for the most part, the holes aren't so demanding that you need to hit long irons/hybrids/fairway woods into greens on your approach shots ... as long as you play from the right tees.

Yes, the first first hole is a challenge and there is that previously mentioned four-hole stretch on the front nine but beyond that, well placed tee shots are rewarded with reasonable length approaches to the putting surfaces leading to an enjoyable day on a fun golf course.

Another great thing about Maui Nui, that many may not be aware of, is that there are great deals in place to play here. On an island where golf can run upwards of $200 a round, and more, this place offers great pricing, especially if you want to golf lots, like many Canadians do in the winter.

"Our highest rate all year is $119 (during peak season) but what we have is the Maui Nui Player's Program. No other golf course has a program like this," where with that card in tow green fees are slashed dramatically, explained Smith.

And by dramatically, we mean dramatically.

For a one-time fee to enter the popular program, a person pays anywhere from $56 at the most during winter prime time to a low of $24 during the summer months per round, with no limit on the number of rounds. As well, that purchase price includes two free rounds and some driving range tokens to work out the kinks on the course's lighted range.

"You can play every day of the week with that. We have people that purchase this that play three to four times a week," said Smith, adding there's also a great short-term deal here. "We do have a limited weekly pass, for only $349 for a couple," who can get more than their fill with that pass.

So if you're in Maui and looking for affordable golf at a great facility, don't overlook Maui Nui because what it offers is beyond what is expected.

After all, Maui Nui gives you something different from any other resort course you're going to play here. With the least amount of wind, the least rain on Maui not to mention the least costly rounds, this is a place to play. Because truthfully, Maui Nui gives you some of the best golfing challenges you'll find on the island at a price that saw the course recently voted as America's Best Value by GolfAdvisor.

For more on this course, go to their website at

About the writer: Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past nine years. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Hes also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf.